On twitter, it has been called the low-key tank. For the second season in a row the Lakers’ results suggest as an organization they are okay with losing games — they need to stay in the top three to keep their pick next June (otherwise it goes to Philadelphia) — but without ever admitting that is the goal. I know for a fact losing like this — 2-15 including to start the season being the lone victim of Philadelphia — wasn’t the Lakers’ goal when the season started, but it appears to be the wise course of action now.
With that in mind…
The Lakers have no plans to remove coach Byron Scott or to make other changes during the season, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.
While there’s a never-say-never qualifier to the notion that coach Byron Scott could be replaced midseason, it appears for now that he won’t be held responsible for either the dreadful record or the fruitless way in which Bryant continues to play. The coaching component, it should be noted, could always change if this losing streak (currently seven games) grew too big to bear.
The strong sense, however, is that Scott is seen largely as an innocent bystander in Bryant’s bon voyage campaign. Scott signed a four-year, $17 million deal in July 2014 to reunite with his former teammate, but the contract is only guaranteed through next season.
Scott has always felt like a placeholder coach for the Lakers. With him and Kobe Bryant they could sell ties to the Lakers’ legendary past, they could keep the seats full and the sponsors happy (and ideally the television ratings up), all while hitting the reset button. Then when the time came they could keep Scott or, more likely, bring in a coach that would take the Lakers’ young players (and any free agents they could land) and build a system around their talents.
That transition likely begins next summer. As for the rest of this season, it’s status quo. For now. If the Lakers’ losing streaks get too long there will be pressure to make a move, but there are no plans now.
Scott said after the Lakers’ loss to Philadelphia that he had no plans to make significant changes, that Kobe has earned the right to take a lot of isolation shots, and they just have to live with the misses. Interesting strategy. Even second-year player Jordan Clarkson suggested the Lakers need to run more pick-and-roll and take other steps to free Kobe up. Nick Young of all people said the Lakers needed less isolation and more team play. But Scott is saying the system isn’t broken, it’s just a make or miss league, and the Lakers are missing right now.
It’s what you would say if you were low key tanking.